Look. You have an incredible gift, and anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see how hard you’ve worked at it, and how far you’ve come. But given what you’ve said, your approach to tying the technical production to the musical art is completely backwards. It has to do with your mindset and career strategy. From what I see from you (and I’ve spent hours going through your website, reading your threads, and studying your youtube channel), at this point in your journey, I wouldn’t learn the technology to attempt to compete with people that have spent their entire lives perfecting a craft (I’m talking about preproduction, arranging, editing, mixing, mastering) that you admittedly don’t even like and isn’t even fun lol. That’s simply not playing to your strengths.
Now I’ll get to my point. Consider someone who flips houses for a living. They can not be successful without thoroughly studying the aspects of the renovation and real estate craft enough to know WHO TO HIRE. The problem with your last record, may have been that you didn’t know enough about toilets and sinks, to know which plumber to hire and which to pass on. You simply knew what you wanted as an end result and that wasn’t enough. The knowledge of all aspects of home renovation is pre-requisite to compete in the overall market, even IF a house flipper’s actual craft is acquisition-and-sales (and not finish carpentry). It is an oversimplification to say ‘it’s all about who you partner with’. Because strategic partnerships are not formed by drawing names out of a hat. There is a smart way and a stupid way to ‘choose’ partners, and the former is not based on dumb luck or happenstance.
Here’s what this means for your music. You NEED everything you’ve learned. That was NOT wasted effort. If you’ve even gone through the process of struggling to mix your own messy tracks, you’ll send your mix engineer clean ones lol. You need to know your plugins in order to have an idea of their functionality and capacity. You need your DAW, to work out arrangements and do edits on your own. This saves you thousands of dollars in time a studio will not be able to bill you for. You need to have gone through the experience of attempting to mix, to know ahead of time when someone else will mess it up. Your understanding of your own shortcomings (as a mix engineer) enables to gauge someone strengths more accurately. Now with the familiarity of the process, you can be more realistic about what can and can’t be done to your material in the mix stage. That saves you (now as the executive producer) from tendency to piss off your plumbers and electricians by handing them an unreasonable workload for an insulting amount of money.
An artist has to LEARN to work with producers. This isn’t a skill you’re born with. Some artists make this incredibly difficult though. Some artists adapt to the process of working with producers much faster than others. Based on what you’re saying, I think it would benefit you to be working with a producer (or co-producer) especially on the pre-production.
As far as how to pick someone, you really need to observe them in their element. Go watch their band play live. Sit at the table and chat with them on their breaks between sets. If it was me, the first thing I’d do is sit down with you in person, take a look at some song ideas, go through some rough recordings, turn on a keyboard (or pick up a guitar), get an idea of what direction you’re wanting to take a track in, then try and read your feedback to see if I can get on the same page with you. That might involve pulling up youtube videos and saying “hey, do you like what they did to the sound of this…I think something similar could fit under the track”…or maybe going behind a keyboard and saying “I have this patch I think would create a really cool vibe in this spot”…and I’d go off that. Basically, its a time to throw ideas around, but you have to be really honest if something doesn’t match or an idea is going in the wrong direction. That first meeting is pretty crucial to figure out if its a fit. And with someone who has been playing music for as long as you have, your instincts are almost never wrong. As a producer I’d be feeling out if my ideas are resonating with your vision, and you would want to be evaluating if my strengths have to the potential to contribute to the project in an ideal way.
Another thing I would do is see how you responded if I suggested changes to the material. The producer has a responsibility to speak up if they feel the an entire segment of the song runs the risk of letting the whole rest of the song down. How this gets communicated completely depends on the communication style of the two people. And there’s no correct or incorrect response.
Then after that, if someone wants to move forward, I’d sketch up a concept draft of the song arrangement…almost like a demo…say a wearable piece of concept clothing to check and see if the pieces of the outfit sew together correctly before spending time and money on the fabric and stitching to create a finished suit or dress.
Really, if a producer gets you that far, and you’re happy with the work, you should be able to trust them the rest of the way though the project. They’ll discuss budget if real musicians need to be brought into the recording. And for what parts in what songs. They’ll help you shop mix engineers and mastering studios. For example, if I were doing this for you, I’d send as much of the editing work back to you as possible to help you save costs. If you just don’t have time, I’d send the editing work to a college kid or intern (but one that won’t fuck it up) to save costs wherever possible.
I think it’s worth looking into. And I think there would be a ton of people willing to collaborate with you on your material. Because it’s really cool stuff. I think you’re writing, your music, and the stories you tell with it, are really in place where it means something to people who listen to it. It does to me.